Nobody keeps him here. They say
he stays for his own good. O yeah.
Lights take the place of sun and moon,
Scrabble and pingpong life’s great games.
Fuck all this, he thinks. He says yes
more than no: What were the questions?
One teenager is named Kristin,
the other Cecile. Poetry?
What of Joseph Conrad’s novels?
Read Lord Jim, then Hamlet, or vice
versa. There’s poetry for you:
In the destructive element immerse
'tis bitter cold and I am sick at heart
Turn those around, there’s where you are.
Kristin comes from San Francisco,
she's hip. Cecile from Seattle
prefers Eliot to Shakespeare.
Kristin recites, Cecile orates.
Kristin gives with rhyme off the street.
Cecile apes The Waste Land English.
Tony the orderly says, Pool’s
what this place needs to go upscale.
He’s from the Madison district,
lives in Chinatown, the idol
of teen glee. His colleague Jamie
would trade Gimpel the Fool for pool.
There is no uptown Seattle,
Earlene declared. Bobby missed love.
Her love. Cathleen’s. Why not leave here?
Bonnington’s eyes are dark brown rays
breaking through Bobby’s put-down words.
Stand pat, they say, No point going
away from here, you will only
be back. Earlene’s New Orleans,
Cathleen’s San Francisco (She’s gone).
He could toss a two-headed coin.
He’s still fucked up. (He too is gone
for a time. San Francisco’s hills
as steep as Seattle’s Skid Road,
though more sheer.) Will the spring day come
his ship docks and he gets shore leave?
(5 February 2012)
copyright 2012 by Floyce Alexander